Christchurch earthquake: 9-month-old killed by falling television

By Beck Vass

Grant Smith says the tragedy of his son Jayden's death hasn't really hit him yet. Picture / Mark Mitchell
Grant Smith says the tragedy of his son Jayden's death hasn't really hit him yet. Picture / Mark Mitchell

The mother of one of the youngest victims of the earthquake tried desperately to stop a television from falling on her 9-month-old son.

But the force of the 6.3-magnitude quake knocked Tracey Harris off her feet and the young mother was forced to the floor, where the 21-inch television fell from a chest of drawers, killing Jayden instantly in their Riccarton home.

Speaking to the Herald yesterday, Jayden's father, Grant Smith, said his son, who had "big blue eyes", would be sorely missed by himself, his former partner and their two daughters, Stephanie, 3, and Vanessa, 2.

"She tried to stop the TV from falling over but the force of the earthquake just knocked her down on the ground," Mr Smith said of his former partner.

"She couldn't get up in time.

"He was a smiley wee boy. All I know is that he was asleep when it happened and from what I know, the TV fell on him and broke his neck.

"I've got a photo in my phone, plus a video of him that we took two days earlier... one is of him smiling and the other is of him giggling ... he'd only just learned to giggle."

Jayden was also about to learn to crawl, he said.

"He was leaning backwards, but he couldn't lean forward properly. He loved his walker ... he was ripping around the house in it."

Mr Smith said he was picking Vanessa up from preschool when the quake occurred. She had been playing in a sandpit, which ended up with a big crack in it.

He then rushed to Stephanie's preschool, where he found the children huddled together outside. "She was just terrified."

He then walked from Aranui to his mother's house in Woolston.

"And that's when I found out about Jayden."

He rushed about on foot, trying to get to his son but found all of the streets that led to the hospital, where Ms Harris and Jayden had been driven by a neighbour, were blocked.

Eventually some detectives gave him a ride.

"They asked me at the hospital when I got to see him, they asked me if I wanted a photo of him. But you don't want to remember your child like that."

Ms Harris, 23, was struggling to cope and Mr Smith said he didn't believe the tragedy had hit him yet.

"I don't think she's coping well, which is understandable.

"I'm just trying to look after my little girls as well. I'm just trying to be strong for my girls."

While Mr Smith's home was structurally sound, he said the inside was "a mess" and sludge from liquefaction was all around the property.

"I can't take the girls back to that. I'm going to my neighbours ... tonight."

Mr Smith said he thought his son's funeral would be on Wednesday but did not know where it would be held.

- NZ Herald

Your views

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2017, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf03 at 26 May 2017 01:22:36 Processing Time: 491ms